Smoothies with flaxseeds, almonds and spirulina

 

Slow cooker (1 of 5)

Yesterday, we bought a beast of a machine. No, it’s not a new car, but a Nutri Ninja Auto – IQ Technology food processor. Unpacking this machine was so intimidating that I asked John for help. This post is not a review of the machine, it’s about smoothies.

In your house, are you big smoothie drinkers? In ours, the love for smoothies varies. We go through periods of drinking lots of smoothies, or none at all. The period of drinking lots of smoothies is when one of the girls is unwell and has no appetite, the mornings we’re rushing to get out of the house, or as breakfast during the summer months.

When making smoothies, I follow no specific recipe. When I’m unsure of what flavour goes with unusual fruit like the guava, I have a quick look in my Flavour Thesaurus to see if the flavour of the guava will clash with another ingredient.

Having frozen fruits at home is always handy, so in my freezer, you’ll always find frozen bags of chopped mangoes, pineapples, strawberries, spinach and blueberries. Sometimes, I even wash, chop, and freeze fresh fruits and vegetable hanging around my kitchen to use in smoothies later on. Doing this means I waste less and when I need a quick healthy something to blend into a smoothie – the main ingredients are already measured and packed, and all I have to do is blend.

In the smoothies I make, for that extra dash of goodness I add some ground flax seeds, spirulina powder, and a tablespoon of almond butter or coconut oil. These additions keep everyone satiated until our next meal.

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to measure ingredients for smoothies, my rule of thumb is for the ingredients to consist of different colours.

 

If you are smoothie newbie, below is the recipe for the smoothie I made last night. We had a smoothie instead of a proper dinner (we’d had a big lunch).

What you need to make one serving

250ml almond milk

100g Strawberry

pinch spirulina powder

1tsp almond butter

½ a ripe banana

What to do.

Chuck everything into your blender and blend until smooth. Adjust ingredients depending on the consistency you like.

Why don’t you share your smoothie recipes with us?

Yvonne xxx

TRADITIONS

Celebrating traditions old and new

Because it’s nearly Christmas … and Christmas is all about celebrating traditions, we asked one of our favourite contributors, Monika Buglear to tell us how she celebrates traditions old and new.

Photos by Monika

I love traditions. For me, its part of life and childhood … especially cooking and baking. When I was a child – around Christmas time – I still clearly remember going back home after hours of sledging with my friends, taking off my snow boots and the amazing smell of my mum’s cakes running through the house.

My mum made sure that every birthday, every Christmas, every Easter, every family celebration and every Sunday was filled with the yummiest food. And the smell of her gorgeous cakes was just unmissable.

I am also very keen to pass on this tradition to my children, hoping that one day, they will have the same fuzzy and warm feeling when they cook or bake cookies with their own babies. I love how they know that every Sunday is our family day and how they expect us to cook a roast dinner with all the trimmings then followed by board games or a snuggle on the sofa.

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Traditions give me comfort, reassurance and happiness. It’s like the scent of a freshly brewed coffee smell in the morning. I can still remember my mama brewing herself fresh coffee every morning, and the smell of her coffee sneaking from the kitchen and finding its way through my bedroom door greeting me with a good morning smile.

About a year ago I started using the same coffee maker as my mum; I love how especially in the mornings, my own home is now filled with the same fresh coffee aroma as that of my childhood. I hope my children get the same comfort that I got from that.
Pancakes are also part of our family tradition; every Sunday we make pancakes. My son even came up with the term “the pancakers” to describe us. He can now easily crack the eggs and mix all the ingredients together. He loves helping out with all the cooking just as much as my daughter.

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We also do Pizza Fridays. I make the dough and from the age of three, my son has been spreading the tomato purée and putting all the ingredients on top before we put it in the oven and waving it good bye while saying “be delicious”!
Cooking is great fun for us. Spending all this time together is so precious and important.

Here is one of our favourite recipes that we make a lot – Raspberry scones:

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What you’ll need:
2 cups of all-purpose plain flour
1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of cold butter cut into small squares
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup of milk and some extra for brushing
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Glaze:
2 tablespoon butter melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoon milk

What to do:

  1. Put all the scone ingredients together to make the dough.
  2. Roll it out and spread raspberries evenly on it (we often use frozen raspberries especially at this time of the year but fresh even better)
  3. Roll it up and slice it.
  4. Put it on a tray
  5. Brush it with a little milk.
  6. Bake the scones for 20 minutes.
  7. Once the scones cooled, drizzle with the glaze.

It’s so scrumptious and quick.  Enjoy x

Monika is on Instagram https://instagram.com/mbuglear/.  She is also on Facebook 

Best ginger biscuits

Best ginger biscuits

Best Ginger BiscuitsThe best ginger biscuits I have ever tasted are from a recipe book my mother and father in law gave me after I first met them over than ten years ago. Before then, I did not bake because I did not know how to. I lacked the patience to carefully measure, as well as all the other things you have to do to have a successful bake.

The book, Maw Broon’s Cookbook changed all that. Maw Broon’s Cookbook made me fall in love with baking – and cookbooks. It was this cookbook that sparked my addiction to buying cookbooks!

Early this morning – alone in my kitchen – I decided to bake the ginger biscuits that launched me into the world of baking. The recipe was my first successful attempt at baking. At the time, I picked this recipe because it did not have a long list of ingredients or instructions. At the time, the recipe looked so simple that I thought, “Yeah, I can bake that!” And I did. And they looked good, tasted fab, and for weeks, I baked these ginger biscuits at any opportunity that presented itself. I was really proud of myself.

So, this morning as I was mixing the ingredients to bake these biscuits and listening to the podcast This American Life, I thought I should share this simple and amazing recipe on Kemikids. So here it is.

What you’ll need:

340g self-raising flour

170 to 200g sugar

85g golden syrup

115g butter.

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground ginger.

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 beaten egg

What to do:

  1. Heat the syrup, butter and sugar in a bowl. Let it cool.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Bit by bit, mix in the egg and the syrup mixture into the flour.
  4. Roll into small balls and place on a lined tray well apart. (In the oven the biscuits spread and may stick together).
  5. Bake at 170 for 15-20 minutes.

Yvonne xxx

Basic Pancake recipe

Basic pancake recipe made with love

Basic Pancake recipe

 

This weekend, John and Lore have – two days in a row – consoled themselves with basic pancakes. They miss Ola, who is camping with her Brownie group somewhere in Surrey. When Lore woke up on Saturday morning without her sis in the house, it was heart breaking to see her so lost. So I did what we’ve all been advised not to do by experts: I made some pancakes to comfort her.

For the first time ever, I used buckwheat flour (instead of the spelt that I normally use) and they came out perfectly. The pancakes were perfectly thin. The trick is to use a lightly greased heavy frying pan. I use butter to grease my pan, but be careful not to use too much butter or you will shallow fry the pancake – this is a no-no. And before I forget, the pan must also be hot.

To make 12-14 pancakes you will need

  • 110 grams of flour (of your choice).
  • A pinch of salt.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 275 ml of milk.
  • 50 grams melted butter.

How to make them

  1. Mix flour and salt together.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the flour and break eggs into it, mixing gently.
  3. Gradually add in the milk and melted butter… ignoring lumps as they’ll disappear.
  4. Keep mixing until batter is smooth and thin.
  5. Lightly grease your pan with butter and get the pan hot. Then, turn down the heat to medium.
  6. Start cooking your pancakes. As soon as the batter touches the pan, tip it from side to side to evenly coat the base. Each pancake should take less than a minute to cook on the first side, and even less time on the other side after flipping. The first pancake of the batch batch never comes out right – nobody knows why!

Eat your pancakes in the traditional English way like John with lemon and caster sugar. Or like Lore and Ola… they eat theirs with honey or maple syrup. And sometimes with chocolate spread.

Yvonne xxx

Fish wellington

How to make a salmon wellington with your leftover

Fish Wellington recipe

For dinner on Saturday night, I baked a whole salmon for the family. And yes, its bones, skin, head and tail were still intact. I did not realise how big the fish was until I  was cleaning it. So, the plan for the leftover was to use in a sandwich or salad.

On Sunday morning, feeling a bit overwhelmed by my To-Do list, I decided not to make an elaborate Sunday Lunch but instead use the leftover salmon sitting in the fridge. I wanted something simple to make but rich and tasty. Looking through my many cookbooks, I settled on a Salmon Wellington -Yvonne’s style.

The result was very yummy, we all had seconds! Since it was very good, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

PS. If you do not have leftover fish, you can use fresh fish but just cook for longer.

All you need

2 tbsp olive oil

Chopped Onions,

Spinach

Leftover salmon

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp clear honey

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 x 380g/13oz ready-made puff pastry sheet

Plain flour, for dusting

1 beaten egg

How to cook it

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment
  2. Fry the onions for 7-10 minutes in the olive oil.
  3. Add the spinach to the pan until wilted
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. In a separate bowl, Mix the Dijon mustard, honey and white wine vinegar. Add the cooled spinach mixture.
  6. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Lay on the lined baking tray.
  7. Lay the cooked leftover salmon in the centre of the pastry pile the spinach on top of the salmon.
  8. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.
  9. Fold the pastry over the fish, sealing the edges by pressing them together, leaving a gap in the centre, so that you can see inside.
  10. Brush the pastry with more beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve with any green salad

Yvonne xxx

Gordon Ramsay's Spiced Porridge

Gordon Ramsay’s spiced baked porridge:my way

Gordon Ramsay's Spiced Porridge

 

School mornings in our home can be frantic. Even with our helpful plastic timer (which I have already written about) I still have to keep one eye on the huge clock sitting on the wall. What takes most of our time is making breakfast. Since the girls are not going to be around me all day, I just want to make sure they are well fed before leaving for school.

The Breakfast they had this morning  was inspired by today’s early morning run. When I stepped out of my front door, the air was damp and cold, and this delicious recipe immediately came to mind. I thought to myself that  spiced baked porridge is a fab, luxurious and warming meal for the girls to have. And that was exactly what they had! But I made it my way just because I did not have all the ingredients needed to hand.  This recipe is a version of Gordon Ramsay’s from his book Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking. It is very easy to make and you do not have to constantly stir the porridge on the stove like you do when making porridge in the traditional way.

 

All you need to serve 4

150g rolled oats

Vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

A grating of nutmeg

50g sunflower seeds (Gordon used 50g  blanched hazelnuts)

50g pumpkin seeds (Gordon used 50g blanched almonds)

75g raisins

1 apple skin on, cored and chopped in small chunks

500ml milk

200ml double cream (if you do not want to use cream, that is okay. Why not up the milk to 600ml)

Instead of 2 tsp demerara sugar, I used maple syrup

How to cook it.

  1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Combine the oats all dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in milk, cream and maple syrup.
  4. Pour mixture in a baking dish. Bake until all liquid is absorbed. This takes about 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with some more milk (if desired).

Yvonne  xxx

 

Chicken

Crispy roast chicken

Roast Chicken recipeOn days when I have not planned our family meals (like last night) I usually just roast a chicken. We all LOVE a crispy roast chicken in our house. Chicken – a quick, simple, comforting and wholesome food to feed your family… especially on a cold night like tonight. What could be more perfect?

And today, I have used the remaining to make a yummy salad!

Chicken can basically be served with anything you have in your cupboard. Tonight I am serving mine with some green vegetables that were lying around my fridge, and white potatoes that I bought yesterday from Marks and Spencers. They only cost me 80p for 2.5kg!

All you need

Chicken

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

Olive oil

Lemon

½ Onion

How to cook it

  1. Wash and dry the chicken thoroughly. I use salt water to wash my chicken.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper inside the chicken’s bottom.
  3. Rub some olive oil on the chicken.
  4. Sprinkle and massage salt and pepper on it’s skin.
  5. Stuff the cavity with the lemon and onion. 

Note: I am not going to roast my potatoes separately. I have cut them into big chunks and placed them round the chicken. The potatoes will cook in the juices produced by the chicken. Their tops will be crispy but their bottoms will be moist. Apart from been delicious, it is quicker than cooking them separately, and I don’t have a lot of dishes to wash!

The cooking time of your chicken will depend on its size. My bird is 1.81kg, so I am going to cook it for 1.5 hours. For cooking times, check the with your butcher or use the guidance on the wrapper of the chicken.

I  sometimes use the colour of the cooked thigh to judge whether it is cooked or not. If you have a thermometer, the thigh should be registering at least 165 degrees celsius.

When it is cooked

Take your bird out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Ps. If you are not roasting your potatoes in the same dish as the chicken, you have the option of making gravy with the juice left in your pan. Just scrape the brown bits and add some hot water.

Yvonne xxx

Plantain

Plantain for breakfast

PlantainIf your family is like mine because you do not like serving cereal for breakfast, then knowing what to serve can sometimes be tricky. I find breakfast especially tricky because my daughters each have different tastes in food. Lore loves homemade granola, but can’t stand porridge. Ola however would eat porridge all day if allowed to!

The answer to my problem is plantain. Plantains are those huge green or yellow bananas you see in ethnic stores. I use the yellow variety. Plantains are like regular bananas only bigger and with less sugar. Whereas regular bananas can be eaten raw, plantain has to be cooked.

I grew up eating fried plantain – but not for breakfast! My mother served deep-fried plantain as a side dish with rice and stew. Some evenings when she was in a good mood, she’d deep fry lots of plantains to feed six hungry children and serve them with fried eggs as a main meal. Yummy!

Plantain

But, you do not have to deep fry plantain like my mum did. Plantain can be cooked in many different ways just like the potato. It can be boiled in its skin, roasted without the skin, or even barbecued. I usually bake mine. I just peel the skin, slice it thickly diagonally, lay the slices on greaseproof paper, drizzle with a little olive oil, and shove in a very hot oven. After about 20 minutes, when it is a light brown colour, it’s cooked.

Eating Plantain is like having a dessert for breakfast. Who would not love that? Plantain is a healthy source of carbohydrate for my daughters to start their day with. I’m reassured that their bellies are full even if they do not eat their school lunches. Plus, they can enjoy a good breakfast without me slaving over a hot stove – meaning I can get on with the rest of the morning routine.

Yvonne

Best banana bread recipe

Best Banana BreadIn my house, we eat a lot of banana bread just because it is delicious! It is also an easy way to use up over-ripened bananas and it is so easy to make. Plus, I give it to Ola and Lore as a pick-me-up snack when I collect them after school.

The best banana bread recipe I have found so far is Sophie Dhal’s. This can be found in her book Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights. Her banana bread recipe always comes out flawless whatever flour I use.

 

Talking of which, I usually use spelt, rye or coconut flour. (With coconut flour I have to tweak the recipe since you can’t substitute coconut flour for ‘normal’ flour at a 1:1 ratio). This morning, I am using plain white flour for pure indulgence and to be honest, that is the flour I have at home.

What you’ll need

75g butter

4 ripe bananas mashed up

200g brown sugar. ( I cut and substitute with maple syrup)

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

170 grams of flour

What to do:

  1. Pour the mashed banana in a bowl
  2. mix in the butter, eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. When this has been mixed, add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and flour.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased bread tin and bake for 1 hour at 180 degrees centigrade for normal oven or 160 degrees centigrade fan.
  5. Remove, cool and enjoy.

Yvonne xxx

Best Bolognese sauce

Best bolognese sauce

Best Bolognese sauceOnce I heard a chef say, “Real Bolognese sauce has no tomatoes.” He also said, “You have to keep stirring the Bolognese sauce while it is cooking”. As a working mum, I don’t have the time to make this chef’s “perfect” Bolognese sauce. Like you, I just want something that is simple to make and delicious.

Growing up, I did not eat Bolognese sauce. In fact, I did not know it existed. Marrying an English man and having mixed race children means learning to cook western cuisines.

I have experimented with many Bolognese recipes but I always come back to The River Cottage Family Cookbook. It is simple to make, tastes amazing, and you don’t have to keep stirring the pot.

All you need.

Chopped onion

Chopped carrot

Chopped celery stalk

Olive oil

500g of grass-fed beef

Butter

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

500ml tomato passata

Bay leaves

200 ml white wine

200 ml chicken / vegetable Stock

250ml milk

Salt and pepper

How to cook it

  1. Put the olive oil into the pan, when hot, tip in the meat and cook for 3-4 minutes, breaking up the lumps.
  2. When the meat is brown and cooked enough, transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and salt and sweat the onions, celery and carrots for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic to the mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the passata and bay leaves and give the mixture a good stir.
  6. Return the meat to pan, add the wine, milk and chicken stock.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for at least 1 hour (preferably 2 hours).

Serve with spaghetti, baked potato or use as base for cottage pie.